Be Prepared for Active Shooter Threats

I received an email from with a link to this website that contains six videos on being prepared to respond to active shooter threats in a number of different situations.  I’m not sure why I got the email, but I am a faculty member at Florida State University.  (I have talked with several colleagues who told me they did not receive the email.)

The videos on how to deal with active shooter threats were made by various law enforcement organizations, and they all provide essentially the same message.  Here it is, for those not inclined to watch the videos.

First, AVOID the shooter if you can. Run away.  Leave the building.  Climb out of windows if you have to.  Just get away, to a safe place.

Second, if you cannot AVOID, HIDE from the shooter. Lock yourself in a room, turn out the lights and stay quiet.  If that’s not possible, hide under furniture or behind objects so the shooter cannot see you.

Third, if you cannot AVOID or HIDE, DEFEND yourself from the shooter.  You can fight back, using anything at your disposal.  The videos show people using scissors, fire extinguishers, shovels, and other objects to attack and disable the shooter.

One video says that while active shooter threats are rare, you always want to “be prepared for the worst.”  Keeping in mind that I got the links to the videos from, if you really want to be prepared for an active shooter threat, a good way to DEFEND against an active shooter would be to carry a gun yourself, something none of the videos suggested.

Florida has a population of about 20 million, and about 15 million Floridians are 21 or older, the age requirement to have a concealed carry permit.  The state has about 1.4 million concealed carry permit holders, which is a permit for nearly one in ten adults in the state, so there are pretty good odds that in an active shooter threat in Florida, someone nearby will be a permit holder.

If people really should “be prepared for the worst,” as one video said, they should get a concealed carry permit and carry a gun.  If you were facing an armed assailant, would you rather fight back with scissors, or a handgun?

If I were really preparing for the worst, I’d rather have a gun to DEFEND myself than any of the weapons the videos suggested, but the option is not open to me at work, because Florida universities are “gun-free zones.”  Legislation is being considered to allow concealed carry on Florida campuses, but for now, it is illegal for citizens to use a gun to DEFEND against an active shooter on campus.

What do you think?  Was it a serious oversight that none of these videos suggested that people consider carrying a concealed firearm to DEFEND themselves?  Or, was it better for them not to suggest it?

Randall G. Holcombe is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His Independent books include Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis (edited with Benjamin Powell); and Writing Off Ideas: Taxation, Foundations, and Philanthropy in America .
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